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Shanahan and Lynch on KNBR: Protests aren’t a distraction for 49ers

Sep 29, 2017 at 8:58 AM

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On Thursday night, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan joined KNBR and reiterated a lot of what he had said Wednesday afternoon about the massive protests that took part throughout the NFL. The 49ers, along with the Los Angeles Rams, did not take part in those protests because they last played the day before President Trump made the controversial comments that prompted the response from players, coaches, and owners throughout the league.

Sunday will be the first time the 49ers play since President Trump said team owners should "fire" any player who disrespects the American flag by not standing for the national anthem.

Shanahan said the 49ers coaches and players dedicated about 10 minutes on Monday to address the situation. Then, 49ers players got together on Thursday after practice to discuss what they wanted to do as a team prior to Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

"We'll do something on Sunday," said Shanahan. "I don't think it will be anything over the top but I think we definitely want a chance to show our unity like the other 29 teams – or whatever it is – that did it last Sunday."

Shanahan insisted the protests and planning something for Sunday are not a distraction for 49ers players.

"I don't think it's a distraction unless you make it a distraction," said Shanahan. "It's definitely something that you need to talk about because it has affected us all – especially after this weekend. I think it got a lot stronger with what the President did."

Shanahan said he understands that football is their job but having different opinions outside of that is fine as long as it doesn't affect the job.

"If it's something that doesn't affect your preparation, doesn't affect your meeting time, doesn't affect what you do on Sunday or throughout the week to prepare, then I don't think it's a distraction."

You can listen to the entire interview with Shanahan below.

On Friday morning, 49ers general manager John Lynch also joined KNBR and was asked to share his thoughts about the protests. It was the first time Lynch, who also does not believe it will be a distraction for the 49ers, has spoken publicly on the topic since this past weekend's events.

"I don't see it as a distraction at all," Lynch said.

The 49ers general manager went on to explain that one of the things he learned from former NFL head coach Tony Dungy, and one of the principles he brought to the 49ers, was that their job is to win championships.

"But if that's all that we've done at the end of our time together, then we haven't done enough," Lynch continued.

Lynch went on to explain what the 49ers are doing to address the situation.

"I think it's a distraction if you let it become one," Lynch said. "First of all, we were fortunate in that we had the extra time to deal with it and Kyle and I got together right away and said, 'Look, Monday, when we come back from our time away, we've got to address this and we've got to use that extra time to come up with a plan, to get with our leadership council.' We got them together and we had real productive talks.

"Last year, as a broadcaster, I can tell you when I first saw it – the protest – I was taken aback. I have a great affinity for our country. I happen to think we live in the greatest country in the world and it's a tradition, the anthem, to me, that I was taught you stand and that's how you pay respect.

"What I've learned in some of these talks and what I learned the other day is that Eric Reid and the rest of these guys that are protesting, they have great respect for our country. They simply want to make some things better. And so I think we had some real productive talks as a leadership group. We trusted our guys to go in a room yesterday. They started to develop a plan. They're going to put the finishing touches on that. You'll see that Sunday. The only thing we've mandated: Whatever we do, we're going to do as a team. And that doesn't mean that if one guy kneels – it means we're going to do it as a team. That's because that's one of our prinicles as a team – having your teammates' back.

"That's one of the great things about this league. We feel like we can accomplish both and we're going to do so in what we see as a really respectful manner. I understand that not everyone will see it that way but I think we're going to be proud that we're going to do it in a – I think what everyone should know is that we're trying to be as respectful as possible.

"And in the future, I think what I'm going to challenge our players, what Kyle's going to challenge our players is let's move this thing forward. Let's take some action out of this. It's not enough just to be angry. We've got to do some things. Like Jed York and his family last year, with a million dollars towards social injustice locally here. That's doing something. I'm not expecting each player but I think there's some tangible things that we all have common ground on that we can do to make our communities better and to start to address some of these issues and move this forward.

"And really, I yearn for the day that no one's kneeling because that will have meant that we've addressed these issues. We've made our communities better. That's my take on the whole thing."

Lynch was asked specifically about the comments made by President Trump and said he was always taught to have great respect for the Executive Office of the President. However, the comments came as a shock to Lynch.

"I was put off by the comments," Lynch explained. "I think by the tenor of them. I think there's a way to act presidential and I didn't feel like that was."

You can listen to the entire interview with Lynch, which is labeled with the incorrect date, below.

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